The Olympics are heavily sponsored by large companies, which get exclusive rights to adertise and distribute their products in return for all the cash that they put up. Coca Cola is the largest beverage sponsor of the Olympic games, but McDonald’s McCafe coffee is the primary source of hot coffee in Sochi for olympic team members and journalists because Coke allowed them the rights to sell hot coffee there. The roughly 11,000 media who have descended upon Sochi can get their joe from McDonald’s, vending machines or concession stands that serve nonbranded brew. The only ones who haven’t been partaking are the NBC news team and their supporting staff. NBC has erected the Sochi Starbucks in its cordoned-off area of the Olympic media center. Baristas serve the free java 24-hours-a-day to the roughly 2,500 people NBC says it sent here. The rotating crew is made up of some 15 baristas from Starbucks coffee shops in Russia, who are flown in, set up with accommodations in Sochi, and paid their regular wages while they’re manning the shop. The Sochi Starbucks serves espresso and chai tea latte drinks, but doesn’t serve black coffee or any of Starbucks’ other signature drinks.
NBC staffers say that their Starbucks, which is not open, is a “supplementary facility” and is being used as a morale booster for their team, but it is creating a stir because staffers have been spotted carrying around the green and white Starbucks cups – displaying the Starbucks branding in what should be Starbucks-free areas, since the coffee giant is not a sponsor of the games.
Coca Cola and McDonalds have reportedly said that they are not concerned with this private, pop-up Starbucks because it doesn’t represent a big threat to their branding at the games, but the news media – many of whom apparently have pretty strong Starbucks addictions – have really made this into a big issue and turned those green and white Starbucks cups into a prized status symbol (at least amount journalists) at the games.
A few days ago, a coffee shop opened in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles. A coffee shop that wasn’t just another Starbucks, but was instead a Dumb Starbucks. It looked like a Starbucks and served coffee, but everything on the menu – right down to the music CDs for sale at the register – had the word “dumb” in front of it. Coffee-lovers in the neighborhood didn’t know what to make of it at first, but they lined up anyway because all that coffee was being given away for free, along with free pastries from a local grocery store.
The store appears to be testing parody law, which basically permits an imitative work to be created to mock or comment on or trivialize a person, topic, company or some other target, by means of satiric or ironic imitation. They have posted a FAQ inside their store (posted below, click to enlarge) that implies that the whole store could be considered to be an art installation – though whoever conceived the store has not revealed why she/he/they decided to target Starbucks in the first place. In fact, the creator(s) of the store has not yet come forward at all, leading to even more speculation. Starbucks, naturally, wants to put a stop to the whole thing because simply adding the word “dumb” to something else is a pretty weak parody attempt.
Starbucks makes it very easy to find their stores, with store locators available on their website and on their app. Independent coffee shops can be harder to find because you actually have to go looking for them. Now, it doesn’t sound like it would be that difficult to locate a coffee shop – but when you want to make sure you find a good one and you are on your way to work, all that wandering around puts it out of the question. If you happen to be in London, you might want to save this map (click map to enlarge) to your phone now because it shows you where some of the best coffee shops in the city are and gives their proximity to the nearest tube station. Now if only we can get a few more of these together for other major cities!
The “Coffee Stops” map is a hobby project of Chris Ward and it is being sold as a limited release print to benefit charity. The small version might not be pretty enough to hang on your wall, but it is enough to direct you to one of the cafes included on it. And keep in mind that you can always start your own wall-sized map at home, then save a picture to your phone for easy reference when you’re out and about.
It can be frustrating to pull up to your favorite coffee shop and be confronted with a long line when you want to get your coffee and get back on the road. This is especially true here in LA, where a 5 or 10 minute delay in getting on with your commute can mean you’ll be spending an extra 30 minutes in traffic. Yesterday, CEO Howard Schultz confirmed plans to allow customers to place orders through Starbucks’s mobile app and pick them up later. That means that you will eventually be able to order and pay for you drink before you even arrive at Starbucks, so you just need to run in and out with your drink. The idea of “mobile ordering” is one that Starbucks has been talking about for some time, but this is the first time that they’ve confirmed it is in the works. While it might not be a must-have feature for regular drip coffee drinkers, it is a big plus for people who order food that needs to be prepared in some way before it is served. Since Starbucks is planning to continue to build its food options, there will be an increasing demand to cut down the wait times associated with ordering food, especially during busy morning commuting hours.